How many of us have gone all-in on the latest fad diet craze without much thought? I know I have! I’ve done the low-fat vegan diet, low-carb diet, and the list goes on. I could probably add “professional diet failure” to my bio. But that’s ok, because we’re all human and failure is a great teacher. Today, I’m trying to learn to manage my weight once and for all, so this ultimately required me to do what I’ve never done before. To improve my health through weight loss, I had to take a good, hard look at my baseline of health. Before you start losing weight, follow these steps to get an accurate baseline of your current health status:
1. Get Your Biometrics
Before you start any sort of major change in diet or exercise, you need to have some idea of where your health stands today. If you haven’t gotten a yearly physical yet, make that appointment! Make sure you find out your blood pressure, height, weight, BMI, and results from any lab tests you might need. You should also measure your body fat percentage and waist circumference if you can. Recent studies have shown that a high body fat percentage (regardless of BMI) is a significant risk factor of developing diabetes. Waist circumference measures how much fat is stored around your midsection—which is also an indicator of your risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.
2. Start Tracking Your Current Food Intake and Activity Levels
Start tracking all the types and amount of foods you eat and what types and duration of physical activity you do using a journal or mobile app of your choice. Bonus points for buying a food scale and weighing your portions. Do not change the way you eat or how active you are at this point. Try to be as accurate as possible. This step serves as both a habit building and awareness exercise. Tracking calories in and calories out is a key habit you will need to develop for success. You also need to get a realistic idea of what you are eating and how calorie dense your diet is at this current moment in time
3. Inventory Obstacles and Resources for Success
Take an honest look at any habitual, environmental or emotional obstacle that could impede your success. What are your eating triggers? Do you overeat out of habit or as a coping mechanism? Are you struggling with any time constraints? You should also list out resources you have that will help you succeed. Do you have access to a gym or a safe outdoor or indoor area to exercise? Do you have family members or friends you can confide regarding your struggles and successes? Can you see a therapist or a dietician if you need additional help? By taking this inventory, you should get a better idea of what challenges you might face and what resources you can use to overcome them.
Finding your baseline of health will help you build a solid foundation on which to build your ongoing weight loss efforts. This knowledge will also help you design your approach to your own unique situation. Instead of haphazardly diving into a crash diet, you are thoughtfully approaching weight loss as a life-long pursuit of health. As difficult as this may seem, try to stay neutral to your results. Try not to judge yourself too harshly and meet yourself right where you stand today. We all have to start somewhere and this is only the beginning.
Leave a comment below on a fad diet you’ve tried before and what you learned from that experience.
Remember, always be kind to yourself and keep moving forward!